This was a press event held by Culinary Heritage Pfalz; all opinions are my own.
If you’ve visited this site before – or scrolled through my Instagram or Twitter feeds – you’ll know there’s a piece of my heart firmly planted in the Palatinate (Pfalz). As Germany’s second largest wine region and a bit of a magnet for gourmands, the Palatinate produces world-class wines, excellent fresh produce from long white radishes to asparagus, almonds and figs, and there’s plenty of high quality regionally-made products, too.
I was really pleased to recently discover that the region belongs to the Culinary Heritage network, a European network that aims to preserve and promote culinary traditions and regional produce. Founded in Sweden in 1996, the network now currently comprises 46 regions across 13 European countries and has 1500 members – but is expanding quickly. The Culinary Heritage logo, used by businesses in these regions that meet a strict set of criteria, essentially stands as a trademark for quality regional products.,
I was invited last month to join a presentation of 15 of the Culinary Heritage Pfalz’s 30 members and their products in the town of Neustadt an der Weinstraße, in the west of the Palatinate on the German wine route. I took the train from Wiesbaden before wandering happily through some vineyards in search of Quartier Christ, the asparagus and strawberry farm where the event took place.
Hosted by the Culinary Heritage Pfalz team, white asparagus farmer Ralf Christ, and renowned Swedish chef (and fan of the Palatinate) Ulf Wagner, the event took place on such a gorgeous September day that they’d set up stalls outside in the farm shop courtyard. Ulf was accompanied by a delegation of Swedish journalists and supermarket owners, who it seems are increasingly focusing on supporting sustainable, regional food suppliers, even outside their own country.
I spent a couple of hours wandering around chatting to the producers and sampling what they’d brought with them. It’s a privilege to meet people so very passionate about what they do, and I learned a lot about much of what the region currently has to offer. Below is a handful of the products that I found most interesting, with apologies for the unimpressive quality of my quickly-snapped iPhone photos.
Culinary Heritage Pfalz: the products
Already a fan of Laumersheim winery Philipp Kuhn‘s output, it was quite the treat to have the opportunity to try some of their very best wines (from the VDP’s Großes Gewächs designation). I tasted the spicy, red-fruit-y 2015 Kirschgarten Pinot Noir – 2015 having been one of Germany’s best ever vintages – and a very fresh minerally, apricotty 2017 Kirschgarten Riesling, which the very nice chap who’s name I’ve forgotten (and who rather pleasingly mistook me for wine student) said would be worth keeping for another 3-4 years.
Natural wines are pretty new to me, and to be quite honest, I’m still trying to work out what I make of them, but it was really interesting to try my first ever orange wine from Weingut Benzinger in Kirchheim. Orange wine is white wine made using the process usually reserved for making red wines: the grape skins are not removed after pressing, and left in contact with the juice during fermentation. This gives the wine a bold, slightly bitter taste and a lovely amber colour.
Having first trained as a gardener and landscape artist before deciding to put his cultivation skills to use in a different way, Axel Hubach (Brennerei Hubach) obtained his licence to make alcohol and built his distillery in Bad Dürkheim in 1996. He now produces award-winning small batch brandies from his home-grown, hand-picked fruits; and I very much enjoyed sampling his Fass No. 01 port. Hubach’s brandies are often to be found on restaurant drinks’ lists in and around the region.
Metzgerei Pelgen is a traditional butcher in Neustadt. They list the source of all their meats on their website, and have used the same family recipes for generations for their house-made products. I tried their excellent Neustadter Sauschwänzel (“Neustadter pigs tail”), a meaty, curly raw sausage available in a little cigar box as an excellent souvenir, and completely fell for their air-dried blood sausage, thin, straight and black, with an excellent bite.
The unique and eccentric Doktorenhof in Venningen occupied a table weighed down with their excellent vinegars, but having spent several hours visiting their premises earlier this year, I didn’t stop for a chat. I’ll have a post up dedicated to them soon.
Learn more about Culinary Heritage:
Culinary Heritage website
Culinary Heritage Pfalz website (includes information about the region plus a list of members)
Culinary Heritage Pfalz brochure (pdf, in German)
Culinary Heritage Pfalz on Instagram